Return to Transcripts main page


Planned Parenthood Defunding Sought over Videos; Darren Wilson Speaks about His Shooting of Michael Brown; Obama Administration Under Fire Over Human Trafficking Report; Law Enforcement Seeing A Spike In Synthetic Pot; Officer Sued For Cuffing Child With Special Needs; Airbus Files Patent For Super Sonic Jet. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 4, 2015 - 16:30   ET



JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Planned Parenthood, facing a sustained push in Congress to stop the group from getting government funding, is in full damage control mode.

DAWN LAGUENS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: What we're seeing here are attacks on people's ability to get health care.

JOHNS: Several states, including Texas, have launched Planned Parenthood investigations, with the video accusing the group of offering to adjust medical procedures in order to preserve tissue and parts for research groups to purchase.

There are calls for the Justice Department to investigate. Planned Parenthood asserted the footage released today doesn't show Planned Parenthood staff engaged in any wrongdoing or agreeing to violate any legal or medical standards.


JOHNS: What are people saying about this?

The latest polling on Planned Parenthood from Monmouth University shows about half of Americans oppose cutting funding to the organization. But it does run sharply along party lines; 68 percent of Democrats oppose defunding and 66 percent of Republicans favor it.

TAPPER: Joe Johns, thank you so much.

In our national lead, his actions sparked a national debate about race and policing. And now his words are getting a lot of attention. The former Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown is now speaking out about his life, about Michael Brown, and about what he calls the culture of high-crime areas. We will discuss that story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In our national lead today, Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer, is opening up about his day-to-day life in a profile published in "The New Yorker" magazine. The 29-year-old defended his actions and said he wanted to return to the department, but was told he would be too much of a liability after being cleared in Brown's death.

Wilson also made comments reigniting the debate about his views on race.

Here's CNN's Boris Sanchez.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Darren Wilson speaking out almost a year after shooting and killing unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. A new photo of the former Ferguson police officer accompanying an over 20-page in-depth interview by "The New Yorker" magazine.

The reporter who spent several days with him in March says the now 29- year-old lives in an undisclosed new home. Very few know where.

DARREN WILSON, FORMER FERGUSON POLICE OFFICER: We're just going to have a normal life.

SANCHEZ: Far from Wilson's wish proclaimed for he and his wife in an interview with ABC News nine months ago, Wilson now says he will only go to places where there are like-minded individuals and it's not a mixing pot.

And about the death that sparked national outrage, Wilson says he doesn't think of Michael Brown as a person, because -- quote -- "It doesn't matter at this point." When asked he thought Brown was truly a bad guy, Wilson said, "I only knew him for those 45 seconds in which he was trying to kill me, so I don't know."

Brown's family says they're not surprised.

ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: There's so many inconsistencies and hypocrisy throughout the article itself, it just perpetuates the view of Darren Wilson as being self-serving.

SANCHEZ: Wilson admittedly has not read the Justice Department's report on systemic racism in Ferguson. The former cop says he's not going to keep living in the past. Wilson says, if you live in a high- crime area with a lot of poverty, there's going to be a large police presence. He claims it's not a race issue. Wilson goes on to say that, in Ferguson, there's a lack of initiative to get a job. The youth are running the streets, he says, not worried about working in the morning.

The 29-year-old claims that culture is everywhere in the inner city.

JEFF ROORDA, ST LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Darren Wilson is no racist. I know him well. I think the article misrepresents who he is.

SANCHEZ: Boris Sanchez, CNN, New York.


TAPPER: Let's talk about this all with Jeff Roorda, a St Louis police union official, a retired police officer, and a friend of Darren Wilson who appeared in our last report. Also with us is another one of our friends from the area, St Louis Alderman Antonio French.

Gentlemen, I saw you a lot in Ferguson, and it's good to have you back. Thanks for joining us.

Jeff, let me start with you.

Wilson was asked by the reporter if he missed going out to restaurants. His response is this. "We try to go somewhere, how do I say this correctly, with like-minded individuals," adding -- quote -- "You know, where it's not a mixing pot."

What did he mean by that?

ROORDA: Well, you know, Jake, Darren's a simple guy.

You're not going to get a lot of nuance with him. You're just going to get a guy that shoots straight and tells you what he thinks. I have been out to eat with him and Barb before and they are on constant alert. They're watching other people in a restaurant, making sure that the folks aren't pointing at them, whispering, or talking on the phone or taking pictures or anything else that would indicate that they have been recognized and that there may be a threat.

Just imagine living that sort of Salman Rushdie lifestyle that they have been forced into. It's no easy proposition.


TAPPER: Yes, but, Jeff, he said he doesn't want to go a mixing pot. What does that mean? It sounds like he's saying he doesn't want to go to an area where there's other races other than whites, but maybe I'm reading that wrong. What did he mean? You have spoken to him at length.

ROORDA: Yes. I have talked to him a couple times today. I didn't ask him specifics about what he meant in the comments that he made in "The New Yorker."

He was disappointed by the article. He thinks it casts him in a poor light, when the intention of the article was to sort of introduce him in more depth to the American public. And I don't think he was treated fairly. I think the article was intentionally unflattering.

TAPPER: Alderman French, what was your take on the article and on the comments from Darren Wilson?

[16:40:05] ANTONIO FRENCH, ST LOUIS ALDERMAN: Yes. The article really was


It was an effective article, though, because it really gave an insight into the mentality of too many I think people who patrol these neighborhoods. It really showed a lack of understanding of the population. It showed a struggle that he had to have any kind of empathy for the population that he was patrolling.

And even now, a year later, he still does not seem to have applied any kind of humanity or empathy for Mike Brown and his family. In that way, it was very disturbing.

TAPPER: I think one of the sections Alderman French is referring to, Jeff, is a section when Darren Wilson asked if he thought about Michael Brown to this day. He says -- quote -- "Do I think about who he was as a person? Not really, because it doesn't matter at this point. Do I think he had the best upbringing? No, not at all."

Jeff, you know him, you are friends with him. Does officer Wilson have any remorse for what happened?

ROORDA: Absolutely he does. We heard that during the Stephanopoulos interview. I -- the first print interview he did with me was with me that was published in our FOP newspaper.

He demonstrated remorse. He demonstrated deep thinking about what occurred on August 9. But, you know, to take the comment he made there in "The New Yorker" out of context, I think, is an injustice too him and what happened that day.

TAPPER: Alderman, the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder investigated the shooting and they cleared Wilson. They stated there is "no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson's stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety."

How do you view the shooting?

FRENCH: I think, along with Mike Brown and many other killings that we have seen across the country, one problem we have, especially here in Missouri, is the law and the discretion that it does give officers for using legal force.

It's very difficult under Missouri law to in any way indict an officer for the use of lethal force. It gives them so much leeway. In the Justice Department finding, what they found...


ROORDA: Particularly when someone's trying to kill them, right, Alderman?

FRENCH: Well, in the Justice Department finding, what it found was that there was no willful violation of Mike Brown's civil rights, which is a different threshold than we would like to see for the use of lethal force in the violation of state law. There's some efforts. They didn't make it very far in the state legislature this year to change Missouri law, to make it more in line with the rest of the world, in fact on the use of lethal force. But we still have a lot of work to do.

TAPPER: Very quickly, Jeff, does officer Wilson consider himself a victim in all of this?

ROORDA: Well, I don't want to give the impression he feels sorry for himself.

He is really extraordinary in the fact that he's not jaded by all this, that he has tried to keep a positive attitude, that he hasn't let this just sort of tear him apart. But if you're asking me, absolutely, he is a victim in this and unjustly so. Remember, this was all started by a mischaracterization of what happened on the street that day by Dorian Johnson, who kicked over the lantern, like Mrs. O'Leary's Cow.

TAPPER: We have to leave it there, unfortunately.

Alderman Antonio French and Jeff Roorda, thank you both so much for your time. Good to see both of you.

FRENCH: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up, was a human rights report watered down by the U.S. State Department in order to make nice at the negotiating table with these offenders? The shocking claims next.

Plus, it's called synthetic marijuana, but it's much more dangerous than actual marijuana, and police say it's making criminals violent and out of control -- that story next.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Time now for the Buried Lead, the act of recruiting, harboring and transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion.

That is how the U.S. State Department defines human trafficking and modern slavery, hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children are trafficked or sold in slavery each year, all over the world including here in the United States.

Each year the State Department documents as many cases as they can, grading countries on three levels or tiers. The third is reserved for the most egregious abuses. But this year, there are some serious charges being leveled about the integrity of this report.


TAPPER: The U.S. State Department announces its report on human trafficking and enslavement worldwide every year with great fanfare. JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It really is one of the best means that we have as individuals to speak up for adults and children who lack any effective platform whatsoever.

TAPPER: But this year's report is under fire with some experts saying the political team at the U.S. State Department watered the report down, smoothing over the horrific records of diplomatically important nations.

MATT SPETALNICK, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, "REUTERS": It seems that this year the process was allowed to be infected a bit more by politicization than before.

TAPPER: Reuters reporter, Matt Spetalnick and Jason Zepp, say the independent government office tasked to grade conditions such as these was overruled 14 out of 17 times by those more focused on diplomacy than on human rights.

SPETALNICK: With input from embassies that want to maintain good relations.

TAPPER: China, Cuba, India, Malaysia and Mexico were among the nations whose status was disputed this year due to economic and political interests, Reuters alleges.

Cuba moving up from the worst level just in time for the U.S. to re- establish diplomatic ties there. It was only last year when the State Department said Cuba, quote, "Does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so."

[16:50:08] What changed? Well, some say, not trafficking, but rather the Obama administration's diplomatic goal.

JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The secretary believes the best way to deal with those kinds of concerns is to engage rather than to be estranged from the government down there in Cuba.

TAPPER: Mark P. Legan (ph) is a former ambassador at large for the office responsible for the annual report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's an argument from people in the State Department or ambassadors in the field that we have other interests or we need to understand the bigger picture. There are some howlers in this year's report that don't make sense.

TAPPER: Malaysia is among the most controversial. Deplorable migrant conditions remained there, including recently uncovered mass graves. Reuters alleges the nation was upgraded to keep it eligible for the Transpacific partnership, also, a top Obama policy imperative.

A letter to Secretary of State John Kerry signed by at least 170 members of Congress last month read, "Malaysia has earned its place on tier three, the bottom level. We're left to conclude Malaysia's upgrade has been driven by external considerations." The State Department did not respond to CNN's request for comment. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Just as this report was airing, we did receive this from Mark Toner, the deputy spokesman of the U.S. State Department. Quote, "We are aware of the Reuters story." The department generally does not comment on internal deliberations.

But I will say this, colleagues from across the department engage in iterative, fact based deliberations on the annual trafficking in persons report.

These deliberations produced the annual country reports and inform the secretary's decisions on tier rankings, the department stands behind the findings and the process of this report."

Turning now to our Money Lead, CVS said last fall, you cannot buy cigarettes where you buy prescriptions. Well, it turns out what is good for public health was bad for the company's bottom line.

CVS reporting its sales dipped $2 billion last quarter. Something the company blamed on its move to stop selling smokes. The drugstore chain says its prescription sales rose, but not enough to offset the lost revenue from cigarette sales. CVS says they hope their decision will attract younger buyers who never picked up the pack a day habit.

When we come back, police raising an alarm about a popular drug that could be behind violent crimes such as a murder on the Washington metro on the 4th of July, that story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other national news today, it's a drug that you may have never heard of. It's raising serious safety concerns in communities across the nation.

Take a look at this video just in, showing a man high on synthetic marijuana according to law enforcement. Now police say that this drug is partly responsible for a spike in violent crime.

Let's get right to CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez. Evan, tell us about this. What is it?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, New York Police commissioner today at a press conference, Bill Bratton, called it weaponized marijuana, Jake. Basically it's sold in convenience stores, gas stations, under names like K2, Scooby snacks.

It's a hallucigenic drug that causes all kinds of reactions in people. It's got chemicals mostly comes from China. We have a few graphics here that show you what the surge of this problem in the last few months.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers says there are been 4,300 exposures, people suffering from the effects of synthetic pot, compared to 3,600 in all of 2013 and all of last year.

We also have some figures from the D.C. fire/ems here in Washington. They said that they had about 450 cases in June of 2015 that compares to about 50 in 2012. They transported 439 overdose cases in June alone.

So it goes to show you a huge problem in fact in -- over the 4th of July holiday, there was a gruesome murder on the D.C. metro in front of a lot of people, somebody who is believed to be suffering the effects of synthetic marijuana is responsible for the stabbing according to the D.C. metro police.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, Evan Perez.

There's giving a child a time-out and then there's this. Huge outrage today over disturbing video of an elementary school child punished for misbehaving. He was handcuffed above the elbows in a classroom, crying out in pain.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can do what we've asked you to --




TAPPER: This child is 8 years old, and according to court documents, he had previously been diagnosed with ADHD and posttraumatic stress. A 9-year-old girl also allegedly faced the same punishment twice.

The ACLU is now suing the officer seen in the video, Kenton County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Somner, who works as a resource officer for the elementary school. A short time ago, the sheriff's office issued a statement says, "It steadfastly stands behind the deputy who responded to the school's request for help."

Also in Money today, plane manufacturer, Airbus wants to change the way you fly. I'm not just talking about more leg room. The company just filed a patent for a plane that can shuttle you from JFK to Heathrow, that's New York to London, in the tame it takes you to navigate an international terminal.

Airbus says its supersonic jet will whisk passengers across the Atlantic in 90 minutes. The patent claims this ultra-rapid air vehicle would zoom through the skies at four times faster in the speed of sound. Airbus says its jet would also dull the boom of the supersonic bang.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over now to Brianna Keilar filling in for Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.